On March 22, 2015, I finally did my first official road race which was the Oxford Road Race. While I am fairly confident in my biking skills, you never know what can happen such as my first cyclocross race when I got a healthy dose of reality in realizing that each type of bike racing has differences and sometimes there can be quite a learning curve.
Since my husband was hopping into some bike racing, I figured, I might as well too. Awhile back we looked at the Ohio Cycling Calendar (http://ohiocycling.org/2015road/) and the first race was in Oxford. This was PERFECT in my book…I could race and get to visit Miami University, my alma mater, where I have not been for well over a decade! I booked us a non-refundable room in Oxford so no turning back now.
Lead-up was good. Easy drive down, pre-rode the course, dinner at Paesano’s Pasta House (yum!), a beer at Mac & Joes (favorite college pub) and an early night to sleep. Race morning for my husband is like Christmas and he has me up at the crack of dawn and at the race site very early.
After looking like the total race noob that I was with my number pinned on the wrong way (which I fixed twice), I was lined up ready to go. The3/4 race was 3 laps of 9.6 miles for a total of 28.8 miles. As I watched the signups, when I signed up there were 9 girls and by Saturday, there were 18. There were also a couple day-of signups. It was a larger field than I was anticipating and of the field at least 9 of them were all on the same team so I was not sure how that would affect things as I was there as my own pony show. I knew from pre-riding the course there was a decent climb early on so I was hoping for a separate before we hit the road with lots of potholes.
After a neutral start for a quarter mile or so, we hit the actual start line. I was on the far left of the road and from the right two ladies from Indianapolis stepped on the gas pedal. I did not waste any time in accelerating to go with them in the third spot. We pushed on at a good clip up the first decent climb. As the road leveled off, there were 4 of us in the front group that had put a decent gap on the rest of the field. We started to all work together in a rotating pace line to increase our lead. I was feeling pretty settled in and comfortable to be in a smaller group. The wind was pretty strong from the east so it was good to have a few others to work with.
About half way through the race, after one of the climbs by the finish into the wind and rounding the corner, the Indiana ladies upped the pace noting Team Dayton lady was struggling and then there were three….podium spots for everyone if we stayed away. We continued to work together. Pace was somewhat relaxed and we chitchatted about triathlon as we also raced them. One of the ladies had done Kona in 2014 and it sounded like the other one was pretty fast and perhaps had a decent shot of qualifying for it this year. I didn’t give much away about my results deciding to stay under the radar as much as possible. Several times the other two ladies were conferring as we rode and it was clear they were strategizing their plan to take me….yet my wheels were grinding trying to figure out my own plan. Bike racing is very different than triathlon biking. As recently quoted in the article my husband shared…in triathlon, “Hardest pedaler gets there first. Brain not required.” While I think you need some thought in how hard you pedal in triathlon, the hardest pedaler does not necessarily win the bike race whereas hardest pedaler typically should have the best bike split.
While thoughts of making my own attack sooner rather than later, were entertained, I thought with the wind and two teammates working together, I was going to have to very carefully make my move. As we turned onto the final road the last time, I knew the time was coming and I patiently waited. We hit the final big climb and just before we crested it, around the 200km mark, the lady in front started her acceleration and I was matching her move and then with whatever I could muster, I moved over to sprint with all I had and came across the finish line in first with both of the other girls just behind me. Kudos to both of them on their efforts!
Sweet success on my first road race and again, Oxford has treated me well! Next up, Barry Roubaix this weekend!!!